There is more to healthy eating than just the food choices on your plate. In order for your eating to be healthy it needs to be healthy for your body, mind, and spirit.
Let’s start with the most obvious one.
- Opt for fresh food as much as possible (think 80/20 rule)
- Eat complete meals which includes a serve of protein, a serve of good fats, and vegetables in every meal
- Opt for free range, grass fed, pasteurized and/or organic wherever possible
- Eat complete meals rather than snacks
- Have around 4-5 meals per day
- Avoid food high in sugar and trans fats (processed food) as much as possible
- Ensure your food is prepared properly and safely
- Avoid eating food that is not cooked thoroughly, to its safest level. Rare steak is fine, but rare chicken is not, for example.
- Thaw food in the fridge
- Do not reheat food more than once. Every time you heat food and leave it, it increases in bacteria.
- Get educated on food safety. You can do a quick food safety course online, to ensure you keep yourself and your family safe at all times.
- Do not place hot food in plastic containers, or reheat food in plastic containers. The toxins from plastics leech into your food increasing xeno-oestrogens (toxins that mimic the oestrogen hormone causing all sorts of health issues). Even if the containers are BPA free.
- Allow food to thoroughly cool down first before transferring to plastic containers for storage.
- Another option is to store food in glass containers instead.
- Cover food thoroughly when storing. Keeps air out to reduce spoilage and prevents bugs getting in.
Allow all your senses to feast:
- Digestion starts with just a thought. As soon as you start thinking about food your appetite increases.
- Think about when someone starts to talk about food (You are probably getting hungry right now in fact!)
- Thinking about food increases your saliva secretion, and increases digestive enzyme production.
- Sight and smell – The sight of food increases your appetite, increases saliva secretion and enzyme production.
- Taste – When you start to eat, savour the flavours. Take the time to enjoy the different flavours.
- Feel – Allow time to experience the different textures.
Take your time:
- Don’t rush and scoff your food down.
- It reduces the quantity of saliva and enzyme production, so decreases the quality of your digestion.
- Leads to indigestion, bloating and a range of other digestive issues.
- Sit down whilst you are eating. Standing whilst eating, signals to the brain you are in a rush. When you are in a rush your body is secreting Cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. This signals to the brain that it is time to fight or flee. Your brain is then too busy focusing on dealing with this stress rather than producing everything it needs for optimal digestion. The more you rush, the more you increase the risk of indigestion, bloating and toileting issues.
- You gulp more air down too which causes burping, bloating and discomfort in the gut.
- It takes time for the brain to secrete the Leptin hormone which notifies you that you are full. If you eat too quick, you won’t give your brain enough time to portion control for you, leading to overeating then feeling over full.
- Once you finish eating, if you are still hungry, wait 20 minutes before eating more. It takes that long for your brain to recognise you are full.
Chew your food properly:
- Focus on chewing at least 20-30 times. The denser the food, the more you need to chew.
- Chewing things thoroughly helps break the food down before you even swallow it.
- This means that each particle is tinier increasing the surface area to volume ratio. That simply means it contains more space from which to secrete nutrients into the blood stream for all the cells in your body to be able to access.
- The larger the particles in your stomach, the longer and harder it is to digest. If they are then passed to the small intestine larger you absorb less nutrient and have thicker faeces that are harder to pass.
- The smaller the particles of food, the more water they absorb helping them pass through the digestive tract easier and are eventually formed into faeces that are easier to pass.
- The smaller the food particles the more comfortable you are during digestion without feeling bloated and unwell.
Mind and spirit:
- Choose food that you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to eat something you don’t enjoy. That is terrible for your digestion and your mental health.
- Don’t force feed if you are not hungry.
- If you are hungry eat a meal or increase your portions of your good food choices. But ensure that it is in fact true hunger and not a sugar craving, emotional eating, thirst, or boredom causing you to want to eat.
- Avoid emotional eating. Find other ways to cope with your emotions.
- Add lots of colour, herbs and spices to your food to help make it enjoyable. This will help boost your mood as colours are appealing to the eye.
- If your food is boring, you made it that way. Try variety and add lots of herbs and spices to keep it from getting boring.
- Don’t deprive yourself. Deprivation is never a good thing. That’s why as part of your healthy eating plan, we recommend including treat or fun food into your week a couple of times a week. It avoids deprivation and prevents you from feeling like you don’t fit in socially.
- Coach Terri